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Surescripts Applauds New Law to Drive Adoption of Technology to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

October 24, 2018

Surescripts commends Congress for passing and President Trump for signing H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act into law on October 24, 2018. This law will support the broader adoption of existing technology that can help deter prescription fraud, diversion and abuse. Today marks a major milestone in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives. We are grateful for the commitment of many organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly for many years to make this happen, particularly the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Coalition on Healthcare, CVS Health, Express Scripts, Imprivata, Prime Therapeutics, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association and Walgreens.

The opioid epidemic has killed thousands of Americans and costs our nation billions of dollars in unnecessary costs each year. At Surescripts, our purpose is to serve the nation with the single most trusted and capable health information network, built to increase patient safety, lower costs and ensure quality care. We have been focused on driving widespread utilization of health information technology since our inception more than 17 years ago. Today, we remain committed to our work across the Surescripts Network Alliance and with the federal, state and local governments, who are collectively addressing the opioid epidemic in communities across the country. 

Thankfully, many of the technologies that the SUPPORT Act covers, such as Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) and Electronic Prior Authorization, along with other critical tools that connect providers with patient medication and clinical data, exist today to help providers make the best-informed care decisions for patients who may be at risk of abuse or overdose. EPCS, which we introduced in 2011, securely conveys prescriptions from prescriber to pharmacy, thereby eliminating paper prescriptions that can be stolen or forged. Medication History for Reconciliation provides access to a patient’s prescription history allowing identification of potential overuse or abuse. And Record Locator & Exchange assists providers in sharing care location information that can help identify potential “doctor shopping.”

Over the past decade, the private sector has dramatically increased its use of health information technology, particularly electronic prescribing. But, while more than 90 percent of non-controlled substances were prescribed electronically in 2017, just 21 percent of controlled substances were prescribed electronically. We are hopeful that the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will go a long way towards closing this gap at the national level, just as New York’s I-STOP law and similar laws in Connecticut, Maine, and Minnesota did at the state level.

While we’ve seen substantial progress as we move to digitizing how healthcare is delivered and paid for in the United States, we need to continue to work together to achieve scale and realize the full potential of what we have to offer in order to make healthcare better for all Americans.

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